Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Such Thing as an Innocent Leak

One of the problems with the hoo-hah surrounding the release of the State Dept. documents is that there has been little attempt from any quarter to distinguish the different effects resulting from the same acts. As long as everything is connected to everything else and thus is declared good/bad as a piece, we won't understand the real impact of this event.

Let's make one thing really clear - the documents have been released. They are not just on wikileaks. Every government with an internet connection has downloaded the complete set (Just in time for the holidays!), there are mirrors, copies, bit torrents, etc., available for anyone with a modicum of computer savvy, and there are now malware emails out there enticing the unwary into clicking on the link to get the documents and actually getting some lovely bit of malicious software instead. That's how you know you've arrived - you're famous enough to be used as spam-bait. No power can reverse this distribution of information. For good or ill, they are now part of the public discourse. What remains is to analyze what has been set in motion.

Comments not getting delivered

Just a note that I've found a bunch of comments in a junk mail folder, some of which are months old. Blogger is also sending almost all comments to the Spam bin when they do arrive. If you haven't seen your comment, it's probably gone into this parallel universe.

Technology, so much fun. Not.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

In Search of the Ordinary

I've been really busy the last few days at work and haven't had any energy to blog. I still don't have much.

My evenings lately have been spent watching re-runs of Dr. Who. It is great fun, what with constantly saving damsels in distress and entire civilizations and foiling the bad guys.

I can see the appeal.

Mostly I've sat in wonder at the explosion of ever expanding hysteria among what were once reasonably intelligent blogs. I can't even begin to address these things because the fundamental assumptions underlying the arguments simply aren't rational. They have bits of fact, threads of insight, and an overwhelming body of self-referential reasoning. It reminds me of Thomas Pynchon's observation in Gravity's Rainbow:
If there is something comforting--religious, if you want--about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long.
I feel caught between a faith that cannot see its lack of foundation and a determined cynicism that will not allow foundations to be laid. Faith and anti-faith denying a place to reason.

Apocalypse is so much easier to conceive of than the ordinary.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Way too many people out in Ye Olde Blogosphere are getting their collective knickers in a twist over the reality that - GASP! - wikileaks is getting shut down by a combination of government and commercial actors.

Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Hillary is Not Going to Save Us

I've had private conversations on this point before on whether Hillary would run again for President. I have always said she would not. After the disastrous midterm elections, people who had dismissed her in 2008 began asking if she would, perhaps finally understanding the penalties of having been so wrong before. Today, myiq2xu has a post on The Confluence citing two news articles where HRC says pretty firmly that she's done with public service after the Secretary of State gig. Nope, Hillary is not going to save us, even if we ask nicely.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Season's Greetings

Krugman smacks the Obama apologists:
After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?

On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.

So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of
Yup, this is what you voted for, Whole Foods Nation. This is the person you were warned about. You voted for a Reagan-adulating, Democrat-hating cipher who has taken the total mess bequeathed to the nation by Bush/Cheney and has made it worse. He is not even pretending to try to defend any interests, not even his own.
Instead, he apparently intended the pay freeze announcement as a peace gesture to Republicans the day before a bipartisan summit. At that meeting, Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have. 
Obama is not a Reaganite, no matter how much he enjoys fellating the corpse of the Gipper. If he really were a Reaganite, he'd know how to preserve and expand power.

I've written before that Obama lacks any sense of or taste for politics, and think I have his political philosophy identified, namely a very patrician Hoover-ish progressivism, but something Krugman wrote today made me have a very bad thought:
One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.
I read this a little differently. What it looks like to me is Obama methodically reversing the desires of the people who voted for him, inverting every virtue and intention they projected on to him. If someone was trying to deconstruct the Democratic Party from the inside - betray its hopes, derail its changes, destroy its legacy - you couldn't ask for a better example.

Almost like an act of revenge.

I said in Primary Objective that Obama was not mortally unpopular with the base, but I'm having to rethink that claim much more quickly than I imagined given the way he has increased his pissing on the Democrats since the mid-term losses. If he has no loyalty to any part of the party and is eager to walk around with a big "Kick me" sign taped front and back, then it makes no sense for the party to follow him off the cliff. Krugman closes by saying, "It would be much easier, of course, for Democrats to draw a line if Mr. Obama would do his part. But all indications are that the party will have to look elsewhere for the leadership it needs."

I think the primary season has opened a few months early.


Foreign and Domestic

As I read various things about the wikileaks document dump, something becomes very clear. Many commenters don't or can't distinguish between domestic law and foreign policy.

First off, the laws that govern US citizens and others within our borders are specific to this geographical location. They may apply to our citizens outside our borders, but that is more complicated and will depend on where that person is - a military base, a consulate, during a diplomatic meeting, on personal vacation, etc. - and what that person is doing. Restrictions and penalties are higher for people serving the nation in an official capacity (military, diplomats, trade representatives, etc.) because they have to varying degrees the authority of the nation behind their actions.